It’s been fun to watch Pup’s star rise as quickly as it has. Their previous show in Vancouver earlier this year was at the WISE Hall and it sold out in a near instant. That show happened just as their latest album, Morbid Stuff, was released, before it had become a critical and popular darling. Its success indicated that these Toronto punks were much bigger than many had realized at the time, which is exactly what necessitated these two back-to-back shows at the Vogue Theatre.
As for Pup, they themselves haven’t changed. From opener “My Life Is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier,” through older and newer material, they maintained the high energy, and relatable depressingly, acerbically humorous take on punk rock from which they made their name.
They don’t rely on gimmicks, chaos, or rock star accoutrements, they play fast and catchy music with tight musicianship and hooks that draw out singalongs from the audience. Pup have cultivated a dedicated fanbase through a solid catalogue of music as evidenced by the crowd singing along to new songs like the title track from Morbid Stuff or “Kids” as well as older, slightly more dour material like “Dark Days.”
If you can’t bring yourself to scream along “Just ’cause you’re sad again, it doesn’t make you special at all,” from Morbid Stuff’s “Free At Last” you might actually be dead inside. There was a purity to the performance that lacked cynicism or contrivance; they were there for the fans, and the fans were there for them.
Pup’s lack of artifice was reinforced before show closer “Scorpion Hill” in mentioning that they weren’t really about doing encores. It was a refreshing end to a genuinely authentic and cathartic show. As an added bonus they were collecting donations for Raven, a charity that helps raise legal funding for Aboriginal nations within Canada.